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Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic (2004)

Documentary about the legendary American film director from his introduction to the film industry in its early years to his death in 1959. After a falling out with Adolph Zukor, he left ... See full summary »


Kevin Brownlow




Cast overview, first billed only:
Kenneth Branagh ... Narrator (voice)
Steven Spielberg ... Himself - Interviewee
Martin Scorsese ... Himself - Interviewee
Frank Coghlan Jr. ... Himself (as Junior Coughlan)
Baby Peggy ... Herself - Interviewee (as Diana Serra Cary)
Angela Lansbury ... Herself - Interviewee
Henry Hathaway ... Himself - Interviewee (archive footage)
A. Arnold Gillespie A. Arnold Gillespie ... Himself - Interviewee (archive footage)
Agnes de Mille ... Herself - Interviewee (archive footage)
Cecilia DeMille Presley ... Herself - Interviewee
Samuel Goldwyn ... Himself - Interviewee (archive footage)
Betty Lasky Betty Lasky ... Herself - Interviewee
Cecil B. DeMille ... Himself (archive footage)
Robert S. Birchard Robert S. Birchard ... Himself - Interviewee
Charles Chaplin ... Himself (archive footage)


Documentary about the legendary American film director from his introduction to the film industry in its early years to his death in 1959. After a falling out with Adolph Zukor, he left Paramount Pictures to found his own company but it too failed and moved on to MGM where his films were less successful than he had hoped. By 1931 DeMille, despite his huge successes in the silent era, was practically unemployable. Given a second chance at Paramount DeMille found his now classic formula of religious or epic tales with more than just a tinge of sex. Firmly re-established, he would stay with the studio for the rest of his career. He became a fervent anti-communist leading to a confrontation with his colleagues in the Directors Guild. He continued making films regardless and died as one of the most commercially successful in Hollywood history. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








Release Date:

5 April 2004 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Photoplay Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

Only the narrator's name is in the cast/crew list. All other credited performers are identified by the narrator or with an onscreen graphic. See more »


References Don't Change Your Husband (1919) See more »

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User Reviews

A solid overview of one of the founding founders' career
29 May 2006 | by alexm-2See all my reviews

This is a two part documentary, each part runs about 60 minutes. The first part covers DeMille's theater and silent era careers while the second part concentrates on the talkies period. boblipton's comment below is presumably about the second part.

Overall, the documentary is quite good and tries to present all sides of the story, but the blacklisting controversy is left a little vague and hard to understand if you are not familiar with the period. But the good news is that there is a lot of archival footage and some of the interviews with the surviving friends and relatives are quite poignant. Movie historians and big name modern directors are also there to provide occasionally wordy commentary.

Curiously, there was nothing in the documentary about DeMille's last project, "The Buccaneer" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051436/), directed by Anthony Quinn, DeMille's son-in-law. I always figured that DeMille was in no shape to direct the movie himself after his heart attack, but the documentary suggests that he was working on other projects before his death.

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